For blocks around, the much-missed roar of fiddles and the calming drone of guitars echoed across the Town of Inuvik, as the Performance Pavilion officially opened to the public on June 18 in Chief Jim Koe Park.

Showcased along with the new centrepiece of Inuvik many of the 186 submissions for the Town’s Celebrate the Light Community Art Mosiac, a Delta-wide painting contest which began during the Inuvik Sunrise Festival in January. Many of the art pieces are on display around the Pavilion and the entire set can be seen as a video or in a collection on Facebook.

“I am so excited to see the first of our major projects here in the park completed,” said Mayor Natasha Kulikowski during the opening ceremony, where she cut a teal-coloured ribbon for the occasion. The ribbon was of Inuit design and held by Gerry Kisoun and Cassidy Lennie-Ipana, to both represent Elders and Youth, as well as governance and leadership.

Taking the bow up in his grandfather’s footsteps, Michael Francis performs jigs, reels and marches for the eager crowd, some of which were even dancing in the stands. He was joined on stage by legendary Inuvik musician Louie Goose, who opened for the Beluga Boyz at the pavilion the next day. Eric Bowling/NNSL photo

“COVID-19 has put such a damper on our community celebrations. This amazing space will serve our community as a piece of important infrastructure, allowing us to showcase and commemorate our regional and national heritage through musical, performing and cultural arts, while also serving as a community gathering place for events, festivals and celebrations for years to come — rain or shine, wind or snow.”

As many enjoyed tea and sweets during the musical performance, with music by Louie Goose and Michael Francis, several dignitaries and Elders gave speeches thanking the town staff for organizing the pavilion, adding they looked forward to many dances and concerts under the big tent. The performance was broadcast live on Facebook.

Organizers wasted little time putting the tent to use, as the next day it was the host of the Town’s first summer Arctic Market as well as the first concert since the Covid-19 pandemic was declared. Louie Goose opened up and the Beluga Boyz — Mark Stevens, Howie MacLeod and Erwin Elias — hit the stage July 19 to kick off the long weekend and celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day in style.

One of several displays of the Celebrate the Light Mosaic project that was initiated during the town’s Sunrise Festival in January. A total of 250 packages were distributed at the time and the town received 186 pieces of art back from across the Beaufort Delta. The work was revealed during the June 18 opening ceremonies. Eric Bowling/NNSL photo

Featuring removable walls, wheelchair accessible stands, a central performance stage and a covered stage — all modular — the Performance Pavilion is the first of a multi-phase construction effort happening this summer throughout Chief Jim Koe Park, with the GNWT preparing its own project to restore Peggy Curtis Field and build a second baseball field, alongside a new soccer field. While construction is going on, the park will be closed to the public and not available as a walkway from Mackenzie Road to the Midnight Sun Complex.

Also still to come is a new Town of Inuvik visitor’s centre, which will set next to the pavilion and will be the new home of the Arctic Market when complete. Construction of the building is anticipated to be completed by the end of the year.

A concept-image of what Chief Jim Koe Park will look like after all the planned construction is completed. On top of the pavilion, pictured bottom left, there will be a new visitors centre, a soccer field and new baseball diamonds. Work on the fields is being completed by the GNWT. screenshot courtesy of Town of Inuvik

Funding for the pavilion was provided by the Town of Inuvik and Canada Heritage. Letters of support for the project were provided by Parks Canada, the Children First Center, the GNWT department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Tundra North Tours, the Great Northern Arts Festival, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Gwich’in Tribal Council.

“I would like to send a huge thank you to the staff of the town of Inuvik,” said deputy mayor Steven Baryluk. ” (They) did an amazing job realizing the vision that council set out in realizing in making Chief Jim Koe Park a more usable space for more of a period of time of the year.

“They are the heroes in getting all this stuff constructed on the site here.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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